Thursday, March 12, 2015

It's in the Bag: Packing for the Hospital

"You wouldn't run a marathon and not eat anything, would you?" she asked.

I nodded my head enthusiastically. "Heck, no!" I thought. "I have fun planning out my fuel for the marathon." But, as I looked around the room at the seminar hosted by my provider, "Perspectives on Childbirth," I didn't see many others in fervent agreement. I might have seen more looks of bewilderment than understanding, actually.

Was I the only marathoner there? Or was I missing running so much that I welcomed any mention of a distance race?

Regardless, the references to labor being like a marathon were many that day. We needed the right gear. We needed to hydrate and fuel well. We would hit a wall but could break through. Most of all, we needed to stay focused and positive.

The approach to the childbirth from my midwives and doctor helped me make sense of everything and feel more confident about my decision to not only pursue a TOLAC/VBAC but a natural birth. It's also making it easier for me to prepare for the whole she-bang.

Take my hospital bag. Now that I'm 35 weeks, it's recommended that I'm packed and ready to go.
Here's how I've applied race day advice to packing.

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Don't wear the race shirt 

Advice: Once admitted, hospitals like to give you the standard issue gown – the one that's open in the back for all to see. One of the midwives recommended bringing our own nightgown, one that is crack out, to encourage walking during labor.

What I'm bringing: A $10 Walmart nightgown that I took to the hospital for Miles' birth. I had intended it for post-birth then but it's big enough to accommodate my belly now. And, since I've worn it over the past four years, I know it won't chafe :)

Don't forget the throw-away clothes

Advice: There's a lot of time spent milling around the start line before the race begins. You should be warm and comfortable but, at the same time, not wear anything you feel attached to. More than likely, it's going to be left at the line never to be used again.

What I'm bringing: Slipper socks and a knee-length jersey robe. I bought both for Miles' birth and though they are comfy, they cost less than $10 total at Walmart. If things get on them, throwing them away won't keep me up at night.

Hydrate well

Advice: Labor is a physically demanding process, and it is paramount that a woman be well hydrated – just like for a marathon. However, many doctors will restrict what a woman can eat and drink after being admitted. "Nothing by mouth" is often the rule. However, my practice does allow us to eat and drink, and they stressed that consuming liquids by mouth – especially those with calories – will help keep up energy levels.

What I'm bringing: Nuun. Obviously. It's not calorie dense but I know it does well on my stomach and I like to drink it before, during and after a workout. I also like it just because. I ordered a four-pack of Fruit Punch and grabbed a new water bottle just for my hospital bag. It's my "birthing Nuun," a label that makes Mark roll with laughter.

Fuel properly

Advice: On the same lines as drinking, you need calories during labor to keep up energy so you can push. Furthermore, some researchers have concluded that not maintaining nutrition can be detrimental to the mother.

They further stated that nutritional deprivation causes maternal distress, an unbalanced nutritional status, and increased pain in labor. Current study results indicate nutritional deprivation did not ensure low stomach residue or acidity, and when combined with the decreased use of general anesthesia in modern obstetrics, the concern for aspiration risk does not provide a sound basis for the implementation of withholding food or fluid from the woman in labor. {Source

My practice advised us to eat a meal when labor starts, something that will taste good but not upset our stomachs, and to bring easily digested snacks to the hospital. One midwife suggested M&Ms, pretzels, applesauce, nutrition bars and eggs.

What I'm bringing: I don't eat eggs before a race – with good reason – and so I won't be eating them during labor. I'm bringing candy orange slices, gummy bears and some nutrition bars. The hospital also has a snack station for dads, and I fully intend to raid it for myself.

Post-race comfort

Advice: Who wants to mill around in sweaty race clothes after an event? Not me. Hence, the necessity to check a bag. The leader of our hospital tour on Saturday told us that the only thing we really needed to bring to the hospital, clothing wise, was something to wear home. There are gowns available that accommodate breast feeding, she added.

What I'm bringing: I'm not so into the paper blue look so I'm bringing teenie-bopper "yoga" pants ($3 clearance at Walmart) and nursing tanks.

Other essentials

Advice: Bring everything, bring nothing. I've read minimal lists and 10-page ones, as well. The practice offered no real suggestions.

What I'm bringing: Bikini, if I decide to get in the whirlpool to labor; coming home outfit for baby boy; phone charger; NAAWK lip balm and lotion, for the dry hospital; hair ties; toiletries; trash bag to sit on in the car; copies of my birth plan; and a good attitude. 

For the mamas out there, what else should I bring?


  1. It's so close!!! Your list is a good one - snacks are so important. Also, books and magazines, but nothing you have to think about too much. Music, if that's your thing. I wanted quiet. More socks/nightgowns than you think (for the sweating through the universe post birth).

    So excited for you!!! What's your Miles plan? That was always the most stressful part for me...

    1. Good call on the magazines and extra clothes! Although, I wonder if you sweat through the universe not because of hormones but because you are just so HOT!

      Miles is fairly self sufficient so I figured if we made up a few PB&J, left out some snacks and turned "Frozen" on repeat that he'd be OK :) Or, my in-laws live 1.5 miles from us and volunteered to wrangle him. A daycare helper also offered to fill in depending on when the show gets started. We're very lucky to have family close by.

  2. Yeah I would definitely say books/e-reader. Tablet? Cards? Lots of socks, who wants saggy socks? A comfy thin zip up hoodie. Easy boob access, not as thick as a robe. And there's something about wearing REAL clothes (comfy clothes) that makes you feel less stir crazy. Your own pillow?

  3. Definitely was a fan of having my own pillow! They told us make sure you have a colored pillowcase so the hospital doesn't mistake it as their own. I also hate socks so I had flip flops for when I got up. They kind of ended up being a pain because people wouldn't see them and would kick them. Good luck! You're getting so close!

  4. You're list is reminding me that I need to start prepping too! Getting so close! love the comparisons too, so true.

  5. Your list looks great. It sounds like you found some great care providers that are following good practices. A friend of mine who is getting ready to birth her 6th kid said that Citrus Bliss (blend from the same peeps who make the Deep Blue you like) was helpful for giving her renewed energy and courage during that transition time when you go from "I can't do this" to "OMG, this is happening now, and there's no stopping it". She said that her midwife put it under her nose and it gave her just what was needed to keep going. Some other moms have also mentioned the Balance blend for helping with feeling grounded, as well as Peppermint for helping stave off nausea and for giving renewed energy. (They diffuse or just smell the Peppermint. It can theoretically interfere with breastmilk production if used internally, so that's one thing to keep in mind. We jam a tissue with a drop of Peppermint on it in our air vent on late-night road trips, so it makes sense it would help a laboring mama at the 3/4 mark of a baby marathon.) If it were me, I'd want a massage blend or something I liked the smell of with some coconut oil for my husband or doula to put on my back to help me at least try to forget my screaming back.

  6. I would add nipple cream for you and a blankie for your husband when it gets super cold in the hospital room